SUPER CENTEX BOYS' BASKETBALL TEAM: Position change didn't slow Wildcat

Erik Valdez switched from post to shooting guard before his senior season and led the Wildcats to a long playoff run.

Scoring was never a problem for Temple’s Erik Valdez.

All through his high school career, the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder was as productive as they come, twice earning first-team all-district honors after claiming the district Newcomer of the Year award as a freshman.

But before his senior season, Temple coach Tim Thomas told Valdez he needed to change — positions, that is.

Valdez had always done his the bulk of his damage in the post with his back to the basket.

But when Thomas told Valdez he wanted to play his star at shooting guard, Valdez went to work.

And the position switch did nothing to slow down Valdez, who averaged just a shade over 20 points to earn the District 12-5A MVP award.

Now he can add another to his résumé, as he’s been selected as the Super Centex Player of the Year.

“It was harder than I thought,” Valdez said of the transition. “I though being a guard was all about scoring and shooting 3s, but there’s a lot more to it. You have to work on your ballhandling and quickness and everything, and it’s a hard evolution to transform to go from one day being a post to a guard. But it you really work at it and determine the kind of player you want to be, anybody can do it. You just have to work hard.”

Valdez’s hard work not only translated into individual success, but he was also the key cog in a Temple team that went from a 11 wins in 2008-09 to 29 and a trip to the 5A Region II final this season.

Valdez has never been allergic to hard work, and that’s part of the reason Thomas asked him to change.

Valdez increased his ball-handling responsibilities and expanded the range on his jump shot, but he could also revert to his old style of play and bang with the big boys inside. That versatility made him almost impossible to stop.

“I’ve coached very few players with his drive and determination to want to be good,” Thomas said. “To see him come to practice every day, never missed a practice . . . puts in extra work — as a coach, I decided to build my team around that kind of guy.

“Obviously, it paid off because he did a lot of great things as a player.”

There was no bigger moment for Valdez and the Wildcats than the regional quarterfinal against No. 8 DeSoto.

Temple trailed by 11 points at halftime, and things looked bleak. But the Wildcats fought back for a 57-52 victory and a berth in the regional tournament.

“That was one of the defining moments of the year because it shows how we’ve been doubted the season and before the season, and we put it together,” Valdez said. “In that one moment, we came together one more time to pull off one of the biggest upsets in Texas at the time and get one more closer to state. We fell short, but that one (game) really did reach out and touch me.”

Valdez claimed the award over two-time District 19-3A MVP Travis McAninch of Lorena and Midway’s Jay Hook, who scored almost 20 points along with grabbing 6.6 rebound per game to lead the Panthers to the playoffs.

Coach of the Year: Alan Andrus, Waco High

Waco High coach Alan Andrus knew his team was short on plenty of things this season — namely height and winning experience.

But what he did have was a slew of shorter, quicker players — the tallest Lion was 6-foot-3 — who could create chaos on the defensive end of the floor and get to the basket offensively.

“We decided (before the season) we’re going to have to change offenses” Andrus said. “We’re going to have to go to a style of play that the teams in our area are not used to playing and something they don’t see every day. We knew there were a lot of half-court teams in our district, and we knew if we got in the half-court with our size, it was really going to hurt us.”

And it worked.

By often bringing an entirely new unit off the bench every few minutes, the Lions could stay fresh and keep the pace frenzied and opponents uncomfortable.

For recognizing what he had and devising a scheme to maximize his team’s potential, Andrus has been named the Super Centex Coach of the Year.

“Coming into Central Texas and not knowing a lot of coaches, then meeting all of them, there are such great coaches in the area and they all do such great jobs,” Andrus said. “So it’s very humbling for me to get this award because so many people deserve it.”

It wasn’t always pretty. In fact, there were plenty of times when Waco High looked out of control. But it sure was effective, as the Lions went from a team that won only two district games to 20 victories and a berth in the Class 4A Region II playoffs.

There was no greater validation for the Lions’ style of play than two victories over much bigger University, the 16-4A co-champion.

Waco High stunned its crosstown rival in the final seconds for two-point victories both times they met, coming back from 17 down in the second half of the second meeting.

The first win gave the Lions confidence it could compete with the best in the district, while the second kept them in the playoff race, and they eventually realized their postseason dreams.

Newcomer of the Year: Ray Washington, University

Joining a University team led by a trio of star seniors, it would have been easy for freshman Ray Washington to be intimidated when he was called up to varsity around Christmas.

If he was, he didn’t show it.

In fact, he stepped into the point guard role and became a key member of the Trojans’ regional quarterfinal team.

For that, he has been named the 16-4A Newcomer of the Year and is now also the Super Centex Newcomer of the Year.

In the playoffs against second-ranked Lancaster, the fearless freshman was the only Trojan who had any offensive success in the first quarter, scoring the team’s first six points by penetrating into the teeth of the defense.

Washington edged Frost’s Danial Steels for the honor.



Player of the Year: Erik Valdez, Temple

Newcomer of the Year: Ray Washington, University

Coach of the Year: Alan Andrus, Waco High


First Team


Pos Player Class School
G D. Ray Morgan Sr Bremond
G Travis McAninch Sr Lorena
G Jay Hook Jr Midway
G Erik Valdez Sr Temple
G De’Vincent Brooks Sr Hillsboro
G Desmond Guy Sr Itasca
G Jasenio Anderson Jr Italy
G Randy Price Sr University
F Jarrod Hall Sr University
F DeChriston McKinney Sr La Vega
F Lance Weaver Sr Rosebud-Lott
F Dominique Moore Sr Gatesville


Second Team


Pos Player Class School
G Willie Tatum Sr Fairfield
G Xavier Denton Jr TCA
G Zach Lynch Sr Troy
G DJ Weathers So Mexia
G Devante Milam Sr Chilton
F Reshard McCants Sr Waco High
F Ahnre’ Gray Sr Mexia
F Edward Cammon Jr Rapoport
F Philip Page Jr Frost
P Michael Warren Jr Hico
P Tevin Green Sr Fairfield
P Kevin Thomas Sr University


Honorable Mention

Mando Ortega, Aquilla; Jordan Millsaps, Axtell; Hunter Perry, Cody Feight, Bosqueville; Ryan Rekieta, Jonathon White, Bremond; Zach Brashear, Steven Townsend, Cameron; Cody Schreck, China Spring; Owen Wallace, Covington; Daniel Post, Crawford; Justin Langham, Connally; Nick Renfro, Dustin Sanders, Dawson; Danial Steels, Frost; Garrett Johnson, Thomas Weber, Gatesville; Caleb Holbrook, Kevin Waller, Groesbeck; Drew Polk, Hico; John Isaac, Italy; Travis Bryant, Chris Cruz, Kopperl; Jake Dickson, Nathan Palmer, Tyler Underwood, Lorena; Levi Norwood, Midway; Josh Davis, DeAndre Cammon, Rapoport; Alex Rogers, Robinson; Matt Brewster, Rosebud-Lott; Noah Wible, TCA; De Smith, Troy; Larson Wayman, Vanguard; Wilson Bridgewater, Darion Jefferson, Waco High; Johnathan Stack, Jacob White, Walnut Springs; Jake Jones, Wortham; Kelvin Anthony, West


About the first team




Sr, Bremond

High-scoring guard put in 24.2 points, grabbed 8.9 rebounds per game, was named district offensive MVP.





Sr, Lorena

Two-time District 19-3A MVP fought off early injury to lead Leopards to second straight district crown.





Jr, Midway

Silky smooth guard led Panthers’ late charge to reach the playoffs, put in 19.3 points per game.





Sr, Temple

Took game from inside out, sparked Wildcats’ massive turnaround from 11 wins to 5A Region II final.





Sr, Hillsboro

District 7-3A offensive MVP scored 22 points per district tilt, bright spot in rough season for Eagles.





Sr, Itasca

Multisport star put playoff-bound Wampus Cats on his back, scoring as many as 56 points in a single game.





Jr, Italy

Mr. Do-it-All put up stat line of 17 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, led Italy’s regional final run.





Sr, University

Trojans’ floor leader a first-teamer for 2nd straight season after averaging 17.8 points, 4.7 assists.





Sr, University

Explosive foward gave opponents problems with his size, leaping ability for district co-champion





Sr, La Vega

As steady as they come, averaged a double-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds for state-ranked Pirates.





Sr, Rosebud-Lott

An absolute terror for opponents inside, pulled down eye-popping 17.2 rebounds per contest.





Sr, Gatesville

Rebounded from injury in time for district, averaged double-double to earn 3rd straight Super Centex honor.





Fr, University

Fearless freshman became impact player, leader on senior-laden co-district champion.





Waco High

Devised scheme to fit his parts, led Lions from 2 district wins to 20-victory campaign, playoff berth.

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